Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting

Started Oct 8, 2009 | Discussions
mellon88
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Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
Oct 8, 2009

Hi guys,

I have been asked by friend to take photos at her wedding reception this coming saturday night, it will take place in a restaurant. I am not sure how the lighting of the place is..but I have been there and i believe there will be sufficient lighting.

I am new to photography and currently using D5000 with kit lens 18-55 without any other accessories. Could you please give me some tips and guides on how I can do this correctly.

I know I dont have the skills to take amazing photos yet, but I really want to do this nicely for my friend.

Any help is appreicated!

Thanks!

Ryan Stewart
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

There wont be enough light. Seriously, there wont.

Ive struggled in similar venues using a D300 and fast f/2.8 zooms and 1.4 primes. I would go there and see for yourself. Even if you have a VR lens you will need to boost the ISO because VR is useless in these situations. You will need faster shutter speeds to keep people sharp.

I usually use fast lenses (can you rent?) and a barrage of strobes. I havent done specifically wedding receptions but I get to do a lot of parties, shows and banquets and the venues and can relate to some of the fun involved.

Are you THE photographer or just a friend taking pictures?

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mellon88
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to Ryan Stewart, Oct 8, 2009

She did not hire any professional photographers for the reception,
she just asked me to take photos for her that she wants to keep afterwards.

maybe i should find out where i can rent fast prime lenses for the night.

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cPez
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

You can take some good shots with your set up - but can also do much better with an additional flash.

This site has some good information on flash usage: http://www.planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/

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Thomas Comerford
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

mellon88 wrote:

She did not hire any professional photographers for the reception,
she just asked me to take photos for her that she wants to keep afterwards.

maybe i should find out where i can rent fast prime lenses for the night.

I would strongly advise you to get an external flash (such as the SB-600/SB-800/SB-900) instead. Assuming the ceilings aren't very high, an external flash will allow you to bounce the flash off the ceiling which gives a much more better looking image than those taken with the built-in (direct) flash.

Fast primes will allow you to get more natural shots, by shooting large apertures but it's not an ideal approach for a beginner, particularly with something as important as a wedding. When you use large apertures, your depth of field will be smaller. This can provide a very nice effect, but it makes it much more difficult to get your subject in focus (even if you can get them to stand still) and if you have more than one subject at different distances it may not be possible to get all of them in focus. On top of that, your D5000 can only auto-focus with lenses that have a built-in motor (Nikon AF-S, or Sigma HSM lenses) which limits your choice of lenses slightly.

Bottom line: your job as photographer is to get correctly-exposed in-focus photographs, and that's a lot easier to achieve with an external flash.

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rsmithgi
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

An external flash is the way to go. If you can afford it, use this as an excuse to pick up the very nice SB-600 or a SB-400.

It's not the best choice but one of the easiest flash diffusers to use is the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce Diffuser. Stick it on the flash. Point the flash at a 45-60 degree angle and shoot.

Here are a couple of shots I took that way. I should have been a bit more careful to eliminate even more of the shadows, but for snapshots they look fine.

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mellon88
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to rsmithgi, Oct 8, 2009

would Nikon SB800 flash do a great help with this situation?
I just found some place that I can rent for $14/day...

I have never used external flash before...I am not sure if I can capable of using it..

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PhD40
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

The SB-800 is good enough but remember to have the flash at least a few days ahead so you can learn how use it properly.

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rsmithgi
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

mellon88 wrote:

would Nikon SB800 flash do a great help with this situation?
I just found some place that I can rent for $14/day...

I have never used external flash before...I am not sure if I can capable of using it..

That is an even more capable flash than the SB-600. That model came with a diffusion dome. See if you get that as well. That will give you better results. Ask them to show you how to use it.

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carlisimo
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Non-technical advice
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

I can understand your willingness to help your friend save money on the wedding, but be careful. Too many amateurs (and I don't mean that word in a bad way) volunteer to be the wedding photographer (or are volunteered) and leave the couple disappointed. Their expectations are high just because you have a giant camera. Make sure they realize what your level of expertise is.

Look through professional wedding photography samples. Many of them show great composition - they know how to be at the right place at the right time for a clever shot. Your shots are likely to be a little more haphazard and dependent on luck (I'm just using a worst case scenario - not a judgment on your own composition skills, which I know nothing about).

You probably also have less time for post-processing than a professional would have, and maybe less experience. That's a big part of it.

As long your friends understand that, you should go ahead and do it. My fiancée and I are trying to get married on the cheap, and we realize that reducing cost means a higher risk of lower quality. But some people see an SLR and assume "expert!" - that's what you need to look out for.

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mellon88
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Re: Non-technical advice
In reply to carlisimo, Oct 8, 2009

I completely agree with you, i didnt not volunteer to do this for my friend she asked me to as she "think" I can do this job. I have already warned her to find someone else they know that can do it better...as I am relatively new to photography.

Thanks for the above advise. I am just trying to do the best I can for the newly wed couple.

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321snap
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KISS
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

I agree that a flash is a must. But just remember that it's likely your friends are more interested in getting "memory" pictures of people at the reception and other stuff that goes on (cake cutting, garter toss, etc.) than having each frame be technically perfect. What I'm saying is--use the Auto mode and direct flash if you have to to prevent a lot of screwing around with settings, etc. while you're shooting. Pay attention to what's going on and minimize the attention you have to pay to your gear. I think that you (and your friends) will be happier with the results.

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tem3
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

I just did my son's wedding and reception as an Dad (a professional husband and wife team took the "official" pictures). For the reception I used my D90, my Sigma 10-20 wide angle zoom and my SB-800 flash. I was happy with the results. You do need a decent flash (besides the on camera flash), IMHO.

http://laurenandtedswedding.shutterfly.com/

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Nikon D60, D90, SB-400, SB-800, Nikkor: 60mm Macro, 70-300mm, 50mm 1.8, 18-55, 55-200, 35mm 1.8, Sigma 10-20mm, Lensbaby2

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mellon88
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Re: KISS
In reply to 321snap, Oct 8, 2009

I have never used a flash before, and I am trying to rent 1 a day before the reception, I hope i can have enough time to pratice on it.

Are you recommending me to use auto mode on all shots taken that day?
I was thinking to use Aperture priority mode to take most of the shots.

please advise me on how i should set my camera. Thank you!

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tem3
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Re: KISS
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

I set the camera to Auto. The shots were all candid and I was enjoying the open bar the whole reception. I trust the camera to make the right decisions under those conditions.
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Nikon D60, D90, SB-400, SB-800, Nikkor: 60mm Macro, 70-300mm, 50mm 1.8, 18-55, 55-200, 35mm 1.8, Sigma 10-20mm, Lensbaby2

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321snap
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What I've done....
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

For what it's worth, I've used a D40 w/SB400 flash and the P mode. I've been pleased with the results for indoor photos. Nikon's TTL flash exposure system does a great job IMHO, including bounced flash shots. I've never used the SB600 or SB800, so if you're going to rent one of those, hopefully someone who has had more experience with them will chime in with their suggestions. My only other input is that if you use the Aperature mode, don't set a very large aperture, as that gives a shallow depth of field, which may make focusing tricky. I'd also suggest enabling the focus assist light, since the ambient lighting in the restaurant is probably quite dim. Good luck!

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prymsnap
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to Ryan Stewart, Oct 8, 2009

Ryan Stewart wrote:

Even if you have a VR lens you will need to boost the ISO because VR is useless in these situations. You will need faster shutter speeds to keep people sharp.

I totally understand the need for fast lenses and an external flash, but could you explain why VR would be useless in this scenario? I understand that VR does not freeze a moving subject, but wouldn't it be just the thing for, let's say, people posing for the camera in a semi-candid sort of way...like when you go around to the tables and take pix of couples, etc. in low light? I'm thinking of VR WITH an external flash like an SB600. Or does the use of an external flash make VR unnecessary?

I'm curious because I've been asked ("volunteered") to shoot some candids at a banquet. Thanks.

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Ryan Stewart
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Re: Tips and guides for wedding reception shooting
In reply to prymsnap, Oct 8, 2009

For posed shots it will help with camera shake but those shots are pretty boring and you probably dont want to have something comprised of just that.

People move. Even if not quickly you might be surprised how much movement can show up in even a 1/60th exposure when people are dancing or such.

VR on a wider lens becomes less useful because allowing you to go a stop or two slower on a 35mm shot means you would be shooting at slower than 1/30, way to slow on almost any moving subject. That is why most pro-grade normal lenses dont have VR (17-55, 24/28-70 from both makers).

VR is very handy on the 70-200 (which I would suggest for candids). You could catch someone at 1/80 pretty easily so VR at 150mm comes in quite useful but on that 18-55 its not going to help as much.

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Steve82
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Re: KISS
In reply to mellon88, Oct 8, 2009

mellon88 wrote:

I have never used a flash before, and I am trying to rent 1 a day before the reception, I hope i can have enough time to pratice on it.

Are you recommending me to use auto mode on all shots taken that day?
I was thinking to use Aperture priority mode to take most of the shots.

please advise me on how i should set my camera. Thank you!

Personally, I wouldn't tackle a wedding reception without a flash or without experience using a flash. But assuming that you don't care what I would do, here's some things to try.

On my D40, the default shutter speed in auto or P is 1/60 sec...which I consider too slow for shooting people that are not intentionally posing. So that leaves shutter priority or manual mode.

  • Set the shutter speed at the max sync speed for your camera (1/200 sec).

  • If you are in manual mode, set the aperture for whatever effect you are trying for.

  • Use Auto-ISO with a max of 800 or 1600

  • Use matrix metering

  • Set the flash mode to "TTL"

  • If your subject is back lit, change the flash mode to TTL-BL

Take some practice shots. Check and see if you need to dial in some flash compensation to adjust exposure. Especially take some practice shots of the bride before you take any once-in-a-lifetime shots. I often have dial in a little negative flash compensation (-1/3 to -2/3) when shooting people wearing white.

Here's some reading
http://nikonclspracticalguide.blogspot.com/2008/01/nikon-ttl-bl-flash.html

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ozpall
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Re: KISS
In reply to Steve82, Oct 15, 2009

i took an sb-600 that i borrowed the day before, had never used one before that day, it is pretty simple, don't get intimidated by it, keep the flash in auto, rent the sb800 and play with it and you'll see, figure out how to set up the flash remotely and you would be good. if you can get prime lens, a 1.8 is fairly cheap and if you are serious about photography you will love that lens.

go to the restaurant one night and check the light and the spots that are better for shooting.

for sure don't just go with your kit lens and no flash, it would be pretty risky in my opinion.
it is very very very stressful so be ready for some fun.

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just keep shooting!
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